The two prime movers in the Universe are Time and Luck.
My childhood memories are the narrow beams of a spotlight in an enormous warehouse of the possible. Why do these few dozen scenes survive while the rest disappear? How do they define me as I enter the gate of age? I do
not pretend to speak of these events as a 7-year-old, all have been told as I preceive them at 70. Their meanings lead me to a befuddled understanding of myself. For instance, my mind still has a clear picture of the sign at the
Columbia Theater’s restroom: WHITES ONLY. When I asked my mom what it meant, I felt the dissatisfaction that comes when an adult uses words they know a child cannot comprehend. She pulled at my arm to go get a seat. There were many black children who had also come to see “The Lone Ranger” on that Saturday morning but they had to be admitted through
a side entry that went up to a hidden balcony. I did not see them. I did not know they were there until after the movie when, walking to Kirchoff’s Bakery, we came around the south end of Market Square and saw a long line of black kids waiting at a restroom with a sign above the door that said: COLOREDS ONLY
5 thoughts on "The Columbia"
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Beautiful snippet of time. Devastating but very well described.
Your poem reminds me indirectly of the uproar in Richmond by some of the theatre goers while watching Birth of a Nation. I like “the gate of age.”
Your memories serve you well and can serve to reeducate new generations…
My childhood memories are the narrow beams of a spotlight in an enormous warehouse of the possible…
what a leading line!
This poem hits right in the heart!
How beautifully written. Thank you. I had to ask my grandparents this question about a drinking fountain. I also wonder how such memories continue to define who I am.